Snack time: 6 PE-backed deals that’ll make you hungry

'We have seen a tremendous amount of growth in at-home consumption for breakfast, meal and snacking occasions,' said Brynwood's Henk Hartong.

Since the beginning of January, PE Hub has seen a slew of deals in the food sector, particularly in the snacking space. There are several factors driving private equity interest. Many people consider eating small, frequent meals to be healthy. And consumer behaviors that began during pandemic lockdowns, such as eating at home, are now continuing due to economic challenges.

Here are six recent PE deals that piqued our appetites.

  1. Brynwood Partners portfolio company Hometown Food acquires Birch Benders

Chicago based-Hometown Food Company, a portfolio company of Brynwood Partners, a Greenwich, Connecticut-headquartered private equity firm that invests in the consumer sector, acquired Birch Benders from Sovos Brands.

Hometown’s baking brands include Pillsbury Baking, Funfetti, Hungry Jack, Arrowhead Mills, White Lily, Jim Dandy, Martha White and De Wafelbakkers. Birch Benders makes baking mixes and frostings, as well as pancake and waffle mixes.

Henk Hartong, Brynwood Partners

Henk Hartong, chairman and CEO of Brynwood Partners told PE Hub in an interview that there have been some fundamental changes in the way consumers are behaving as a result of the pandemic.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of growth in at-home consumption for breakfast, meal and snacking occasions,” he said.

Hartong noted that shifting economic trends could be fueling the trend whereby more Americans are preparing their meals at home. “At first people couldn’t eat out because of the pandemic, but then it has become a function of the economy, which has made it more difficult to afford out-of-home locations, and more people are eating meals and snacks at home.”

2. Astara Capital Partners invests in Wyandot Snacks

New York-based Astara Capital Partners invested in Wyandot Snacks, a contract manufacturer of snack foods and cereals. Founded in 1936, Wyandot is headquartered in Marion, Ohio, and has been under the ownership of the Brown family for 85 years.

Lindsey Tannenbaum, partner at Astara, said the investment will seek to strengthen and further develop the company. “Wyandot is a leading manufacturer of snack foods with long-standing customer relationships and a strong reputation for quality, customer service and product innovation,” she said in a statement.

3. Swander Pace-backed Café Valley acquires Freed’s Bakery

Café Valley, a portfolio company of San Francisco-based Swander Pace Capital, acquired Freed’s Bakery, a Las Vegas-based maker of iced mini cupcakes.

Founded 36 years ago and with two state-of-the-art production facilities in Phoenix and Marion, Indiana, Café Valley produces bakery products such as croissants, muffins, Bundt cakes, ring cakes, turnovers and coffee cake bites for in-store bakeries, club stores, foodservice and convenience stores throughout North America.

“The Freed’s acquisition is a value-enhancing add-on for the Café Valley investment platform and strengthens our position in our diverse channels, including in-store bakery, convenience and foodservice,” said Tyler Matlock, Swander Pace managing director and Café Valley board chairman.

  1. PNC Riverarch Capital buys Backerhaus Veit from Swander Pace

PNC Riverarch Capital, a Pittsburgh-headquartered PE firm, acquired Backerhaus Veit, a Mississauga, Ontario-based producer of artisan, European-style breads, rolls, buns, and soft pretzel products to retail and foodservice customers in North America.

  1. Trive Capital and Crux Capital acquire a minority stake in HTeaO

Dallas-based PE firms Trive Capital and Crux Capital acquired a minority stake in HTeaO, a Fort Worth-based iced tea franchise with 68 locations in five states, and with more than 425 franchise licenses awarded.

The investment will stir HTeaO’s growth and drive the company into new markets. Co-founded in Amarillo, Texas, in 2009 by Justin Howe and Gary Hutchens, HTeaO serves ultra-premium tea, water, coffee and related products to customers in-store and at drive-thrus.

“HTeaO has become the leader in the drive-thru tea category with its innovative, taste-driven offerings,” said Shravan Thadani, a partner at Trive Capital. “We are excited to build on HTeaO’s significant momentum and strengthen its brand leadership across the US.”

  1. FrontWell Capital Partners invests in Savor Street Foods

Toronto-based FrontWell Capital Partners invested in Savor Street Foods, a Reading, Pennsylvania-based company that describes itself as a “food manufacturer producing an array of health‐conscious pretzel.”

“We are excited to support Savor Street Foods, the pioneer in health-conscious snacks, as it capitalizes on its large and growing market opportunity,” said Patrick Dalton, Frontwell’s chief executive. “The company has built strong momentum with its customers since inception, and we are thrilled to provide a tailored financing solution to help it reach its next stage of expansion at this pivotal moment in time.”